Further bad news for food cart fans—it appears the popular downtown pod at SW 6th and Columbia is slated for closure. Vendors, including Aybla Grill, Love Belizean and E-San Thai were given just 30 days notice last Friday. Andrew Love, co-proprietor of Love Belizean, is both angry and bemused by the eviction as he says it came out of nowhere, though he adds that he ran into a couple of businessmen last week who were discussing redevelopment of the adjacent parking lot—one of whom was allegedly speaking negatively about food carts. “The whole thing is shady,” he says. “No one around here wants the pod to go. Now we have to find a new place and build up our clientele again.”
The Mercury reached out to the firm that owns the lot, Harsch Investment Properties, about the particulars of this change. Unlike some other evictions issued in the name of converting food cart pods and their parking lots into housing, Harsch insists this one's about turning a pod's parking lot back into a regular parking lot.
New tenants in a nearby building wanted the stalls, prompting Harsch to reverse course a little more than a year after first establishing the pod.
"Of course, we are saddened to see the food carts leave, but this is about living up to our commitment to our tenant," Steve Roselli, a senior vice president and Harsch's Portland regional manager, tells the Mercury. "Portland Fidelity National Title and their affiliates lease 20,000 square feet in the adjacent building and have the right to the parking stalls in that lot for their employees and customers. After three months of occupancy, they have determined that they need the additional stalls. We, as their landlord, are obligated to provide them with the stalls if needed."
This news comes after the recent announcement that Cartopia on SE 12th and Hawthorne is closing, and adds to the list of cart pod spaces that Portland is losing (Food Carts Portland has its take on the closure here, with a list of all the affected vendors). Yes, cities undoubtedly alter, redevelopment is a necessity, and carts can move—but does that mitigate giving a business only one month to relocate? And while the shifts may be gradual—losing a pod here and there—food and food carts reflect the character of our city, and no one wants Portland to become less vibrant and more sterile.